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Archive for the ‘Trade Show Exhibit Tips’ Category

How to Make Your Itsy-Bitsy Company Look Like a Really BIG Company

July 26th, 2018 COMMENTS

TIm Patterson -- TradeshowGuy

Right Sizing Your Company

Let’s say you are a small company. Whatever that means. But you want to appear bigger because bigger is better, right? How do potential customers perceive you when they see your website? What clues do you leave that tell your story and let customers know you are big enough to handle their business, yet still small enough to build a good working relationship?

Why would you want to appear big? Not everyone does. Many entrepreneurs position their company as a boutique business that specializes in working with a very specific type of client.

Perhaps the question isn’t that you should look bigger, but to ensure the right companies find you. Not so long ago, prospective clients would judge you based on size of your brick-and-mortar store and zip code. Then they’d gauge your ability to handle their needs. Sometimes a small neighborhood hardware store with personal service will serve a customer better than a big box store.

Looking Bigger and Attracting Crowds

Perception is everything, especially in the beginning. I’m guessing that 98% of your potential client’s first interaction will be online, even if they’ve gotten a referral. They type in a search term in their browser, look through the first 5 or 6 results, click one, and begin eyeing your website. All assuming you appeared in those search results. Or if they have your company’s name, they’ll search directly for you.

When I first started my website many years ago, I chose not to go the pay-per-click route. Instead, I wanted to share my tradeshow knowledge and the knowledge of others online. Yes, it takes more time, but the results won’t disappear if I don’t feed the PPC meter.

Crowds at a Trade Show

Blogging

One way to appear bigger – to show that you have a larger reach than bigger companies – is to blog. And to do it consistently. Hundreds of people come to my blog, TradeshowGuy Blog, through random searches. The most popular might surprise you. For instance, one of the most-viewed this year is a post on how a SWOT Analysis applies to tradeshows. Yes, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A good 50% are folks outside the USA. Interesting.

The next most popular post is Skills a Tradeshow Manager Needs. Following that is one on how to replace paper at tradeshows using digital technology (a guest post from 2015). Followed by How to Build a Tradeshow-specific Landing Page. Notice anything unique. All are geared to teach specific skills.

With over 700 posts in the past 9+ years, the search engines have archived them all, so random tradeshow-related searches will find them.

Many years ago, I made a commitment to post regularly on a variety of industry topics. The goal was consistency. Write one or two a week and see if it leads to more opportunities. And, it did.

Vlogging/Podcasts

TradeshowGuy Mnnday Morning CoffeeEach week, I publish the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee vlog/podcast. While individual podcasts aren’t in the Top Ten, the category is in the Top Five most-viewed. Which means that a specific podcast might not get a lot of views, but people are searching to see what’s been posted recently. Together that tells me three things:  the podcast is gaining traction, the time investment is worth it, and each interview builds relationships with interviewees, who are mostly in the tradeshow industry.

Someone once asked me, “Does blogging, podcasting, publishing a weekly newsletter, posting videos on YouTube channel and spending time on social media actually result in more business?”

In 2016, 66% of our business at TradeshowGuy Exhibits came from people who found me online. In 2017, it was less than ten percent. In 2018, frankly it’s a bit fuzzier. But, when I communicate with potential clients, through cold calling, email, or simply reaching out to folks I know the feedback is always positive when they receive a link to specific post, video, or podcast.  Just experiencing the extent of the posts (video, audio, photographic, lists, etc.) provides me with instant credibility. They realize I’m offering expertise and solutions, not just a product.

YouTube Videos

I’ve had a YouTube channel for almost a decade. In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing other than creating a few how-to videos and tradeshow advice. I didn’t post regularly, and the views were limited. In a sense, that’s still the case, although I create a video version of my podcast and post it as another way to share content.

I believe that creating good content makes the TradeshowGuy Exhibits look bigger, and putting it online makes it easier and more likely for potential customers to find me.  

Trade Show Exhibits

Exhibit Design Search

Frankly, so does Exhibit Design Search (EDS), which is a branded search tool that looks like it’s part of our websites. EDS is the work of our main design and fabrication partner, Classic Exhibits, and we use it all the time. When we send ideas from EDS to potential clients the reaction is often “Wow! I had no idea you could do all of that!” Aligning yourself with a company that offers great tools expands your virtual heft.

We also have a handful of other URLs that are used for various purposes. For example, TradeshowSuccessBook.com is a landing page that offers a free digital download of my first book in exchange for subscribing to my newsletter. TradeshowSuperheroes.com is a book-specific page solely for promoting and sharing information on my second book. TradeshowExhibitBuyersKit.com is a landing page to promote a package of tools for potential exhibit buyers. And TradeshowGuyWebinars.com is a collection of helpful webinars.

Two Things

So, what’s important to me? When I consult with clients and prospects, I want them to know two things:

  1. When you work with TradeshowGuy, you’re always working directly with me or someone with the same expertise. We’re small but with big resources.
  2. Our success is tied to your success. If we make a company’s tradeshow manager look good — by doing a great job, by providing an excellent service, and by designing and fabricating an exhibit that gets noticed on the show floor –we’ve done our job. If we make you look good, we feel good. It’s as simple as that. And if looking big makes us a better, more approachable partner, then that’s a great byproduct.

Tim Patterson (Guest Post)

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After 25+ years as a radio on-air personality, Tim Patterson became the TradeshowGuy. He blogs regularly at TradeshowGuyBlog.com and is the host of the weekly vlog/podcast TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. After spending 9 nears as VP of Sales and Marketing at Interpretive Exhibits, Tim is currently owner of TradeshowGuy Exhibits in Salem, Oregon.  His company works with exhibitors to improve their tradeshow marketing presence and bring in more qualified leads. Find him on Twitter at @TradeshowGuy and on LinkedIn @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothypatterson/

40 Things You Do @ Trade Shows (You Would Never Do Anywhere Else)

July 24th, 2018 17 COMMENTS

40 Things at a Trade Show

We are all members of specialized sub-groups, each with its own rules and etiquette. Think quilters, railroad model builders, woodworkers, or even college sports fans. Trade shows are no different whether you are an exhibitor, attendee, or an industry insider. While many behaviors might seem normal to you as a member of the trade show community, others are downright bizarre to those who rarely set foot in a trade show hall.

With the assistance of my colleagues, I’ve compiled a list of 40 Things You Do @ Trade Shows You Would Never Do Anywhere Else. It was actually much longer, but this is a PG-rated blog.

Drinking doesn’t count. We know you drink. You just don’t always start at lunch. And for the sake of discretion (and possible litigation), we’ve ignored trade shows in CO, WA, OR, and now CA. Don’t pretend you don’t know why. 

Feel free to contribute via the comments section. And enjoy!

40 Things You Would Never Do Anywhere Else

  1. With zero guilt, throw trash in the aisle and expect others to clean it up
  2. Spend $8.50 for a 12 oz. bottle of Aquafina
  3. Bribe someone to look the other direction. Brag about it later
  4. Have Accounting panic because you just max-out your credit card on one transaction (drayage perhaps?)
  5. Wear matching polyester clothing 
  6. Steal anything that appears to have a value of less than $10 (candy, hats, pens, mugs…)
  7. Share “steamy” industry gossip with competitors
  8. Chat with 500 strangers in 72 hours
  9. Gush about the double-padded carpet in booth #1108
  10. Buy a gaudy new belt in the casino shop for $165 (after forgetting to pack one) 

Vacuuming at a Trade Show

  1. Party until 3 am with Steve in Accounting, Larry in HR, Melissa in Engineering, and Rebecca in Quality Control
  2. Bum breath mints from strangers
  3. Arrive at work at 11 am. Leave at 3:30 pm
  4. Get agitated when someone walks across the corner of your booth space
  5. Take a Lyft to Lowe’s or Best Buy at 9 am/pm
  6. Pretend you don’t smell that awful face-melting smell
  7. Debate the existential meaning of portable, modular, and custom
  8. Act interested in (insert topic)
  9. Complain about how much it costs to vacuum 400 sq. ft. of carpet. Vow to do something about it
  10. Allow strangers to take your stuff without a receipt for three days and not know where it is, how it’s getting stored, and that you have zero ability to get it back early. Or if it will be returned undamaged

Badge Scanning at a Trade Show

  1. Let someone point a scanning device or smartphone camera in the general vicinity of your chest and crotch. Repeatedly.
  2. Be convinced a 15-minute conversation will lead to $500,000 in new business
  3. Assemble a 3D structure that costs somewhere between a used car and a McMansion… only to disassemble it three days later
  4. Spend 20% of your entire annual marketing budget over five days. Never calculate the ROI
  5. Compare the work ethic in Philadelphia, Boston, NYC, Chicago, Orlando, Anaheim, San Francisco, and Las Vegas to the work ethic in your hometown. Vow to do something about it.
  6. Hang your dress shirt in the bathroom with the shower running for 30 minutes to steam out the wrinkles  
  7. Explain, once again, to your family and friends that it’s a “business trip” and not a vacation
  8. Get visibly excited about the phrase “traffic congestion”
  9. Guard your giveaways like a momma bear (Day #1). Beg show labor to take them in bulk (Day #3)
  10. Sneak off to the bathroom just to find a quiet place to work

Finding a Quiet Spot to Work at a Trade Show

  1. Hide in a storage closet to scarf down a Starbuck’s scone, while dusting your co-workers coats, purses, and briefcases with gooey crumbs
  2. Judge people based solely on their name badge 
  3. Convince your boss that the 300 fishbowl leads are new clients clamoring for your product (and not the iPad giveaway)
  4. Pretend the President’s son is not still drunk. Allow him to talk to potential clients and competitors (I know I said I wouldn’t include drinking but this one was too good to exclude) 
  5. Spend 3 days with 100 of your best friends and not speak or see them again for 362 days
  6. Fly from the Midwest in January to Las Vegas, Orlando, or New Orleans and NEVER leave the hotel/convention center complex
  7. Reintroduce yourself to the same person three times. Act embarrassed 
  8. Toss the sales literature you carefully collected over three days so there’s more room for tschotskes. Pretend it’s for your children 
  9. Be REALLY, REALLY EXCITED to leave Las Vegas or Orlando!
  10. Finally… Wonder (after scanning the room and mumbling quietly to yourself) why the Federal Government hasn’t filed RICO charges against certain segments of the trade show industry. Vow to do something about it. 

That’s it. Please share your “Trade Show Things” below. And thanks for playing along.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including SuperNova LED Lightboxes. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

CORT Rental Furniture on EDS | Made Even Easier!

May 23rd, 2018 COMMENTS

cortheader

There’s a Time for Subtle Suggestions… But Not Today

For years, Classic Distributors would grumble about ordering rental furniture for clients, like sofas, chairs, and conference tables. You hated it. And for good reason. Your client would give you a link to the General Show Contractor (GSC) page with the show rental furniture options, which included the price. You handled it and charged the client a processing fee, typically 20 or 30 percent. Which is more than fair.

Except not to the client, who feels filling out a form should be cheap, or in many cases free. The fee introduces a financial “rub” between you and your client over an insignificant (but important) transaction.

About 60% of all exhibitors rent furniture, and according to my EAC sources that percentage keeps increasing, whether islands or inlines. So how do you take care of your client without the financial “rub”?

It’s Easy

You already use Exhibit Design Search. Two years ago, we added two Rental Furniture Galleries to EDS with CORT products. Classic Distributors loved it! While it didn’t include the complete CORT product line, it was a good place to start, and all the prices were in retail. Even better, the prices were competitive with GSC show book prices. EDS was the perfect place to direct your client to choose rental furniture options.

Recently, we made it even easier. You simply call CORT and tell them you are a Classic Distributor. Repeat.. Tell them you are a Classic Exhibits Distributor. They will give you the special Classic wholesale prices. Each region has an Account Manager, but the 855-663-2678 will get you to CORT’s Customer Service Department.

Even Better

CORT recently added over 100 new products to their EDS galleries — more conference tables, chairs, sofas, accessories. It’s impressive. And all include retail prices and predictable margins.

Now’s the time to eliminate that financial rub between you and your client on furniture rentals. Use the EDS CORT Galleries and FINALLY make predictable margins on those sales. You are already doing the work. You might as well get paid for it. And your client will be delighted with the service.

Have questions? Give me a call or contact your local CORT Strategic Account Manager. There are six across the United States.

  1. John Peck, Northwest, john.peck@cort.com
  2. Jill Jensen, Southwest, jill.jensen@cort.com
  3. Adrienne Fitzgerald, North Central, adrienne.fitzgerald@cort.com
  4. Derek Argo, South Central, derek.argo@cort.com
  5. Sarah Mainhart, Northeast, sarah.mainhart@cort.com
  6. Sean Colvin, Southeast, sean.colvin@cort.com


–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

EXHIBITOR Magazine’s 2018 Portable Modular Awards (PMA)

December 1st, 2017 COMMENTS

PMAHeader

Portable Modular Awards (PMA) and People’s Choice Voting Page

EXHIBITOR Magazine announced the finalists for the 2018 Portable Modular Awards this week. They also launched the People’s Choice Voting website where you can vote once a day for your favorite design (regardless of the category).

PMA-GraphicThe categories are:

  • Best 10-by-10-Foot Exhibit
  • Best Fabric Exhibit – An exhibit comprising predominantly fabric components
  • Best Use of Graphics – Graphics for the entire exhibit and/or individual applications or purposes, such as info graphics, way-finding systems, product-display graphics, overhead-signage design, large-format graphics, etc.
  • Best In-Line Exhibit (10-by-20s, 10-by-30s, etc.)
  • Best International Design – An exhibit designed by a company outside of North America or an exhibit designed by a North American firm but launched at a show outside of North America.
    Best Island Exhibit Less Than 600 Square Feet
  • Best Island Exhibit 600 to 1,000 Square Feet
  • Best Island Exhibit More Than 1,000 Square Feet
  • Best Reconfigurable Exhibit – An exhibit that can be reconfigured to accommodate various footprints, goals, shows, etc. Entrants must submit photos of the booth in at least two different configurations.
  • Best Rental Exhibit – A portable, modular, or system exhibit comprising predominantly rented components.

Classic Exhibits has been an active supporter of the PMA since its inception five years ago, both through submissions and advertising. This year is no exception. We submitted five entries, and four were accepted as finalists.

Best Island Exhibit 600 to 1,000 Square Feet

Parrallon

Design/Marketing Challenge:  Parallon wanted an exhibit that made a big impression with attendees from across the show hall and in the booth space. They requested an open concept allowing for a natural flow of traffic through the booth and multiple conversation areas. In addition, the modular components had to fit different size footprints. Equally important was the use of technology and integrated lighting throughout the design. One big challenge was Parallon’s requirement to easily re-brand the booth for their strategic partner HealthTrust, which uses the structural components of this booth at shows where Parallon does not exhibit. Finally, the client wanted to improve their operational cost savings compared to their previous booth.

Design: Astor Group, Cheryl Harnishfeger and Classic Exhibits, Kim DiStefano

Best Rental Exhibit

ForRent

Design/Marketing Challenge: ForRent.com wanted a substantial presence on the show floor with cohesive branding for all their divisions. They decided to feature all their sub-brands in their booth for the first time:  ForRentUniversity.com, ForRent.com, CorporateHousing.com and After55.com. With 30 working employees in their booth, they needed a large amount of secured storage, lots of interactive demo areas for 1-on-1 sales, social media activity, and both in-depth and casual meeting spaces for building relationships with customers. The materials needed to have a residential feel to focus attention on their residential properties. Finally, they wanted more design flexibility while achieving their goals which is why they choose a 20 x 50 rental (rather than a typical purchase).

Design: Classic Rental Solutions, Doug Cole and TPS Displays Richmond, Neil Carroll

Best In-Line Exhibit

Schmidt

Design/Marketing Challenge:  Schmidt’s Naturals wanted the natural and clean qualities of their well-established brand to be reflected in their booth. They wanted a clean product display area, storage, space for casual meetings, and an overall inviting feel. The space also needed well-organized sampling areas where visitors could smell the products.

Design:  Classic Exhibits, Kim DiStefano, and TradeshowGuy Exhibits, Tim Patterson

Best 10-by-10-Foot Exhibit

ShoesForCrews

Design/Marketing Challenge:  Shoes For Crews wanted their trade show displays to reflect their recent updated branding. The company participates in about 70 shows per year with various booth sizes, so they needed a distinctive, lightweight, reconfigurable, well-lit exhibit with enough shelving to show 40-50 shoes representing all their product lines. They didn’t want typical shelving;  they wanted their shoes displayed in a creative fashion. Also they hoped to engage customers in their booth space with media, recreating a breakroom experience that their customers experience in their respective environments.

Design: Classic Exhibits, Kim DiStefano and Art Guild, Ron McEntee

We encourage you to vote for your favorite(s) over the next three months. Let us know if you have any questions, and we would enjoy hearing your comments about the four finalists. Finally a HUGE thanks to the Classic Distributors for their support with PMA and to Katina Rigall Zipay, our Creative Director, for submitting the entries.

Winners will be announced at EXHIBITORLIVE.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.

We Don’t Care. We Really Don’t Care!

October 28th, 2017 COMMENTS

ClassicRentals

Thank you for a CRAZY FALL SEASON. We’ve had strong sales, including a record number of AMAZING custom projects. You kept us busy and inspired in Q3, which the Classic Exhibits Family appreciates.

The rental division, Classic Rental Solutions (CRS), saw the largest surge. And that’s not surprising. Exhibit rentals are growing at Classic and throughout the industry. More and more exhibitors are attracted to the smaller upfront investment and the luxury of changing their design from show to show or year to year. The exhibitor’s desire to “mix things up” challenges many builder’s design flexibility and capacity. Not every company has the capability (or willingness) to stretch their rental program.

But We Do. And Here’s Why.

#1. Classic Exhibits and CRS support over 200 distributors. Not every distributor taps into our rental division, but the vast majority send us multiple projects every year. That volume means we have an unmatched inventory when your client needs five LED lightboxes, a double-deck display, a 40 x 40 island, or 37 monitor stands for an event. There are few requests we can’t handle.

#2. We are the manufacturer. We’re not ordering modular frames, cut aluminum extrusion, or custom wood counters. We’re building them. If the rental division needs a custom counter or curved Gravitee One-Step frames, it’s done in days, not weeks. It also means we control the quality. We have no hesitation about throwing away damaged aluminum, chipped laminate, or rebuilding or replacing crates. What we ship has to be perfect because we’re answerable not only to you but also to your client. Happy customers mean more rental orders. And that makes us happy.

#3. We are the designer (in most cases). That gives us enormous flexibility to create customized rental designs. We can choose to build a custom component for a specific design. So many rental designs on the show floor are cut-and-paste, carbon copies of modular panel templates. Be honest. How often have you seen the same rectangular tower with four arches and stock counters? Rentals are growing but some of the designs on the show floor are getting pretty stale.

RentalImages

#4. We are Classic Exhibits. Over the years, we’ve built our reputation on design, quality, flexibility, and nimble engineering. And especially predictability. When you open a rental crate there should be no surprises. It will include detailed instructions, immaculate packaging, and graphics that fit, since the display was staged and photos taken in our facility.

#5. Lightboxes, Charging Stations, Monitor Stands, Tablet Solutions, LED Accent Lighting, etc. Trade show industry trends change FAST. Those trends should apply equally to rentals as they do to purchases. Sadly, that’s not true for all suppliers. At Classic Exhibits, we have no reason not to cross-pollinate purchase trends with rentals. We benefit. You benefit. Your client benefits.

So…. you may be wondering about the title of this blog post — “We Don’t Care. We Really Don’t Care.” On occasion, a distributor will apologize for a rental order. Their client considered both a rental or a purchase but eventually decided to rent. Yes, the initial order is is smaller but that’s fine. Rental orders, over time, tend to be larger than purchases. And frankly, the margins are better. There’s no need to apologize. We don’t care whether you purchase or rent from Classic Exhibits. We only care that you do one or the other.

Thanks again for a remarkable fall. Be sure to visit the Rental Display Gallery. We’ve added over 120 designs in the past two months, all with rental and purchase prices.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.